Date: 18th September 2007 at 5:20pm
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It’s hard to recall now but once upon a time Cristiano Ronaldo was the biggest threat of one of our opponents.

OK, I admit it wasn’t in the Stone Age, only as early as 2003 that the Red Devils visited Lisbon and came away embarassed 3-1 by a vibrant Sporting side whose main threat was a certain Cristiano Ronaldo Dos Santos Aveiro.

The players, the myth says, urged Fergie all the way back on the plane to sign the young prodigy who tormented our full-backs beyond dignity. The manager duly cracked under pressure and opened the chequebook to pay a record fee for Ronaldo. The rest of it, as they say, is history.

Such was his success that many United fans hailed the arrival of another Sporting starlet, Nani without any worries or concerns. Now the duo head back to their parent club.

Both admitted it will be a special occasion for them, as well as for Carlos Queiroz who took up his first senior coaching job at Sporting, back in 1994. They’ll be focused on winning only, of course.

‘Of course it will be a special feeling playing against Sporting, as it will be for Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo,’ Queiroz insisted.

‘But we are all professionals and I am sure we will do our best. I hope we can play a tremendous game and I’m sure the Sporting fans are expecting this.’

Nani, apart from talking about the emotional scale, also hailed the return of Wayne Rooney.

‘It’s going to be emotional going back,’ admitted the young winger ‘My heart is in Lisbon but, as a pro, I want nothing other than a United win.

‘I’ve spoken to Cristiano and we both feel there could be a few early nerves about returning home. But if we can score first the pressure will be on Sporting and having Wayne and Cristiano back gives us an extra edge.

‘Wayne’s recovery is a real positive, particularly with two huge battles coming up against Sporting and then Chelsea on Sunday.’


I hope we’ve taken away everybody from Sporting who could cause us problems!